Wanted: America’s Next Prison Rodeo Queen

If you want to advance beyond your current dead-end job, experts say you must be nimble and quick to leap at employment opportunities that may disappear in the blink of an eye. Sort of like Jack, the guy who jumped over the candle stick. Just try and find a high-paying job with health insurance jumping over candlesticks these days–they’ve all been outsourced to India, where candles are still plentiful.

If you’re not paying attention, a job opening can slam shut before you’ve read Ziggy, checked the winning lottery numbers and finally made your way back to the want ads. By then, it’s too late.

Ziggy: His job is safe.


If you weren’t paying attention, for example, you might not have read that Jo Ann Cornell, Oklahoma prison rodeo queen, died a while back. When you come across a weird news item like this, you can’t afford to ignore it. You’ve got to pursue your enlightened self-interest and ask, “What does this mean for me?”

I’ll tell you what it means: There’s one less prison rodeo queen to compete with! Now is the time to spiff up that resume and start calling around to America’s state and federal prisons and ask “May I please speak to your human resources department? I’m interested in becoming your prison’s rodeo queen!”

“I see why Doc waived the entry fee.”


In the small town in Missouri where I grew up our family doctor sponsored a rodeo every summer.  M.D. degree, rodeo–what’s the connection, you may ask.  Simple. Rodeos produce injuries the way nits make lice. I think Dr. Lowe’s only entry requirement was that prospective bull-riders and calf-ropers have health insurance or a wallet full of cash.

Rodeo queens, on the other hand, are royalty, and do not have to risk life and limb to perform their job functions. You have to know how to smile and wave, not sit on top of 2,200 pounds of snarling future hamburger.

Unfortunately, the competition for jobs in rodeo queening outside of prison is fierce. That’s why an opening in the prison rodeo queen employment sector is so important. Here are some tips on how you can “get a leg up” on other applicants for the next prison rodeo queen position that opens up in your state.

Commit a crime: This is fundamental. You are much more likely to see a job posting for a prison rodeo queen opening if you’re actually in prison.  “So many girls overlook the basics because they spend to much time on their hair and makeup,” says Marilu Pfenner-Smith, a former Junior Rodeo Queen at the Central Missouri Home for Wayward Boys and Girls.  Care should be taken that the crime you commit not be one that exposes you to capital punishment, however. “If you are dead, you will be ineligible for most prison rodeo queen positions,” says Erroll Neuman of the Kentucky Department of Corrections. “You have to be able to fill out the paper work, not just ride around on Chintz, your golden palomino.”

Have your outfit ready. Do not show up for a prison rodeo queen interview in a tailored suit, sensible shoes and a white blouse with a floppy bow tie. “You need to look the part when you first meet the warden, look him or her in the eye, shake hands and say ‘I’m going to be your next prison rodeo queen or bust a gut trying!” notes Elena Jo Shortsleeve, whose reign as Arkansas State Prison Rodeo Queen was tragically cut short when a cockleburr embedded in her never mind became infected.

Nobody likes a pouty prison rodeo queen.


Be yourself. Too many girls try to “put on airs” and be someone they are not when they first embark upon their prison rodeo queen career. “We went through the ‘punk’ queens and the ‘goth’ queens and that is so 90′s now,” says Melva Louise Ritter, editor of Prison Rodeo Queen Monthly. “The fresh-faced-girl-next-door-convenience-store-holdup-getaway-car-driver look is so much more appealing to the state Boards of Correction who make prison rodeo queen hiring decisions.”

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